Cybersecurity expert offers warning as cryptocurrency scam sweeps TikTok

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A cryptocurrency scam is sweeping through TikTok.

According to the Better Business Bureau, it starts with a scam artist posting a video of a large pile of cash that a con artist claims they made in just a few days by investing in cryptocurrency and that they can do the same for you.

Once you message the con artist, they’ll ask you to send money through Paypal, Zelle, or Venmo for a cryptocurrency “investment.”

Once the money is sent — they’re gone and so is the cash.

Cybersecurity expert Chris Hamer recommends everyone have a particular mindset in place to avoid falling victim to get-rich-quick schemes online.

“If you’re walking down the street and somebody comes up to you and says I can double your money, just give me 20 bucks and I will give you 40 dollars back just as soon as I get back. Are you going to give it to them? Probably not,” Hamer said.

Hamer said it’s important to understand that everything that appears on social media might not be what it seems.

That goes for playing online games or participating in seemingly harmless social media quizzes or for influencers with thousands of followers selling you products.

“It’s so malevolent the way they do it,” Hamer said of the social media quizzes. “Depending on how many of these stupid participation things that you’ve done, I know your favorite color, I know your dog’s name, I know your favorite food. And all of this is used to build up a profile that goes into a database. Some of it is used for targeted advertising.”

Hamer said it’s important to remember that “free” is never really “free” with online services.

“Any time anybody offers you a free service it’s because you’re the commodity. They’re selling your information and your access and your likes and dislikes to advertisers,” he said. “You are what they’re selling to advertisers. You’re the commodity.”

Hamer said the quizzes can also be used to glean more personal information that can be used for identity theft — like tricking you into sharing your birth month with a “choose your birthstone” quiz and then sharing your birth year and day in a separate quiz that appears to be from a different group but really isn’t.

The less information you give out, the less likely you’ll be scammed, he said.

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